ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Reality Check, Enervate


Milwaukee bands Reality Check and Enervate played a sold-out show at X-Ray Arcade Sunday night alongside Boston hardcore band, Santa Cruz hardcore band Scowl, and Rockford metal trio Pains.

Reality Check are a hardcore band consisting of vocalist Emilio Nunez, guitarist/vocalist JJ Kaiser, guitarist Nick Walloch, bassist Dereck Miles, and drummer Ben Skowronek. Kaiser said on the band’s formation, “I’ve been trying to start this band for like three years before we finally actually did. We went through two other full lineups of people and it just never worked out for whatever reason. I started jamming with Ben sometime in late 2018-early 2019 and in later 2019 Dereck came from the second iteration of the band…and then Ben had the idea to get Emilio involved since he’d been trying to be in a band for a really long time. The four of us formed Reality Check, and then Nick joined a bit after around the time we put out our demo (August 2020)…he’s a good friend and he’s really good at guitar so it made sense.”

They had their first show at X-Ray Arcade last September. Kaiser said, “We were ready to play shows and had our first few booked and they all got cancelled because of COVID. The first show was going to be at my house in late March 2020…and that didn’t happen…so when we decided to book shows again, we wanted it to be with all the new hardcore bands that formed over the course of the pandemic…so us, Enervate, and World I Hate. It went really well; it was hard to tell how many people were there because it was free, but we guesstimated 150 – it was fucking awesome. It felt like everything stood still for a year and a half and then when shows came back, everything picked up where it left off.”

Their song “Contempt” was featured on Milwaukee Style Compilation from last summer; Nunez shares what inspired that one.

“I was born in California and was raised around a diverse group of people. Then around middle school/high school my family moved out to a rural area in Wisconsin outside of Madison and it was just a complete culture shock for me. I was the only Brown person in many of my classes…the only person of color in many of my classes…so to see peoples’ attitudes towards people of color or gay people or anybody different was really frustrating for me to see growing up.”

On what the band is working on now, Kaiser explains that they just recorded two songs.

“We’re doing a split with the band TR3Y 5ive from Chicago which should be out hopefully next month. We’re playing some shows with them as well as some shows that haven’t been announced yet. Then we’re going to start grinding on more music and stay as busy as possible.”

“JJ helped me out a lot with writing the songs,” Nunez said about his lyrics. “We have one song that’s about frustrations with working a shitty job.”

Kaiser added, “I wrote the majority of that one. I had a few shitty days at work and how the situation I’m in is fucked up, but the fact that there’s so many places unionizing and winning benefits and better pay is a win for the working class. I have a lot of contempt for the future of our country but seeing that gives me the tiniest sliver of hope. So many bad things have been happening over and over again the last couple years, and a lot of people are just sick of this shit.”

Reality Check will be announcing some shows in May and June in the Midwest soon. They play at Cactus Club May 17th.

Enervate are a hardcore band consisting of vocalist Lan Milhomme, guitarists Adam Kobs and Marcus Boldt, bassist Tom Hively, and drummer Sean Thompson. They formed shortly before COVID hit, as Milhomme explains.

“It was really just linking up and wanting to write music, and while was COVID messing everything up we had a lot of down-time to write more music. I actually didn’t know anyone when we formed; when I moved out here to Milwaukee I was hitting up people on social media and asking mutual friends if they knew anyone that I could hang out with and go to shows with. That’s how I met Tom and Adam – and then everybody else – and we started writing. We were supposed to have a show at Sky High with a few other bands right when everything got shut down, but I think it turned out to be a little bit of a blessing because it gave us more time to write together.”

Their EP “No Time Left” dropped last June. Milhomme said, “We recorded with Collin St Mary from Nineteen Stars Recording down in Indiana – super cool guy. In terms of writing the demo itself, we wanted to do something that could be both different and fun for us to do live, so that’s sort of how we went about asking Jeff Georges and Jordan Moten to hop onto “No Time Left” when we were writing that song. The overall theme is growing up and realizing that time passes you by really really fast, and if you don’t try your best to have fun and do what you want to do and explore your passions, there’s really no time left.”

Milhomme shares what they’ve been working on.

“We’ve been trying to figure out ways to play more shows and get out a little bit. We wrote the EP, recorded it and kind of sat on it so we were already starting to work on new tracks.”

On his lyrics, Milhomme said, “I’ve been touching on a lot of things. Especially with the title track from “No Time Left” it really felt like a connection that I share not only with Jeff and Jordan but with a lot of people, where I could go from one city to another and find people in the scene where people look like me where there isn’t a lot of representation for us but we can link up and have those common experiences and share that. The other tracks I’ve been trying to move consciously with, relating my experiences as a Black man into what I write and how I tell my story.”

Enervate just announced that they are playing Hold Your Ground Fest in Ontario in September. They play Cactus Club on May 17th (with Reality Check again).

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